Sustainable farm raises $25,000 online
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A young couple has raised over $25,000 in pledges to bring sustainable farming to Mississippi and change state poultry regulations.
Beaverdam Farm owners Dustin Pinion and Ali Fratesi had a thriving business based on delivering pasture-raised chickens and other products to customers around the state until their chicken deliveries were halted. In a time of stress, they have been overwhelmed by support.
“We are seeing that when you do good things, good things come back to you,” Fratesi said. “After chicken deliveries were ended, customers began a petition to update regulations to mirror what’s on the books in Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas. These changes would allow deliveries and increase the amount of poultry we are able to produce.”
The petition reached over 2,000 signatures in one week, and customers have been making daily calls to officials requesting the petition be approved.
“Small farms are all about community,” Fratesi said. “And ours has come out to help expand our poultry operation while working to improve the regulations. If we get the poultry regulations updated, the facility we’re fundraising for will allow us to deliver poultry again. Regardless of the regulations, we have to build a new facility to provide chicken since our demand has exceeded the 1000 bird limit.”
With deliveries in Jackson, Ridgeland, Meridian, Columbus and Starkville, their business model depends on updated regulations. For now they can only sell chickens on the farm, a business hampering requirement with much of their customer base in Hinds and Madison counties.
“The unique thing about Beaverdam Farm is they come to you,” Alicia Barnes of Starkville. “Before I found them, I was routinely traveling out-of-state to find pasture-raised animals. When I found them, I was excited to be able to spend my money in Mississippi and support a local business whose practices aligned with my family’s needs.”
Housed north of Starkville in Cedar Bluff, Beaverdam Farm raises chickens, pigs, and turkeys, though they see themselves primarily as soil farmers.
“Food is a byproduct of our soil building operations,” Pinion said. “We know that without healthy soils, you cannot grow healthy plants or animals and without healthy plants or animals, you cannot have healthy people, so we’re soil farmers.”
To farm the soil, the animals are moved to fresh pasture on a daily or weekly basis to prevent overgrazing. The manure improves the quality of the fields, an effect that impacts the whole food chain.
“Our passion has been to restore the environment,” Fratesi said. “We found that the best farming practices focus on the larger community. By restoring the land, we are leaving a healthier environment for future generations.”
“Beaverdam Farm produces the type of food I want to feed my family,” Barnes said. “We’re making calls and letting people know we want local food options here like there are elsewhere.”
Beaverdam Farm supporters are hoping a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign will provide the capital needed to expand. The Kickstarter website connects people to causes, but it comes with a catch. The fundraising goal must be met or none of the money is collected.
“We are thrilled for the $25,000 pledged, but unless we reach $30,000 we’re back to square one,” Pinion said.
Their supporters believe they will get there and reach their stretch goal of $45,000.
“Mississippi is consistently one of the most generous states. I believe the donations will continue,” Barnes said. “We’re going to show that we are small business friendly, and we are creating a welcoming atmosphere for our young people who want to stay and make this state a better place.”
Pledges are being collected at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1682257709/growing-the-farm-feeding-mississippi. The pledges must be received by Tuesday, July 1 for the project to be funded.
As sustainable farmers who do not use antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, herbicides, or other such chemicals to produce their meat and vegetables, Pinion and Fratesi remain motivated to serve Mississippi and reduce its chronic rates of obesity and preventable diseases by providing food raised the old fashioned way.
“Honestly when we decided to start the farm, we found that it would be easier to go to a state where the regulations for small farms were already in place,” Fratesi said. “But to make the biggest difference we had to stay here. In the end, we decided we did not really have a choice, we had to stay home and help.”